more from Baruch de Spinoza

Single Idea 13073

[catalogued under 14. Science / D. Explanation / 2. Types of Explanation / k. Explanations by essence]

Full Idea

If a circle is defined as a figure in which lines from centre to circumference are equal, such definitions do not explain the essence of a circle, but only a property. The properties of a thing are not understood as long as their essences are not known.

Gist of Idea

To understand the properties we must know the essence, as with a circle


Baruch de Spinoza (Improvement of Understanding [1675], 95), quoted by Cover,J/O'Leary-Hawthorne,J - Substance and Individuation in Leibniz 1.2.1

Book Reference

Cover,J/O'Leary-Hawthorne,J: 'Substance and Individuation in Leibniz' [CUP 1999], p.24

A Reaction

This is the traditional Aristotelian view of essence, and the example of a circle is nice, though I am not sure what the essence of a circle might be. Presumably ALL the properties of a circle must flow from it.

Related Ideas

Idea 13432 The essence of a circle is the equality of its radii [Leibniz]

Idea 13431 A space between three lines is both the nominal and real essence of a triangle, the source of its properties [Locke]